Tuesday, 01 October 2019 16:56

AWS and Deloitte launch Gravity Challenge using space data to fix real-world problems


Buzz Aldrin once pointed to today's mobile phones as one of the technologies delivered by space race, but there are plenty more globally pressing problems that can be solved using space data and capabilities.

The Gravity Challenge has officially kicked off, where some of Australia’s best innovators come together to solve some of the world’s most pressing problems using space data and capabilities.

We're told that there are "more than ten challenges, ranging from transport issues through to environmental and reforestation projects", and these were set by some of Australia’s "largest organisations across insurance, mining, government, and health sectors to dozens of innovation teams nationally".

Who will take part?

Participating teams from universities, startups, and other established companies will have six weeks to make use of data analytics and machine learning to develop digital solutions which directly answer real-world business challenges. Teams will have access to business mentoring, technology infrastructure and space data.

Winners of the challenge will be awarded trophies and will have the opportunity to pursue commercial arrangements with the organisation that they have developed the business solution for.

Premier of South Australia, Steven Marshall said the event will cement South Australia’s position as a global leader in the space sector.

“It’s a huge coup for South Australia to be hosting this event, building on the significant space sector momentum at Lot Fourteen”, Premier Marshall said.

“Amazon Web Services and Deloitte are two of the largest companies in the world, and to have them choose Adelaide as the location for their Gravity Challenge highlights the gravitas our State has generated as a leader in space.”

Head of Innovation at Deloitte Australia, Jason Bender, said space data is the answer to cracking the difficult issues of today.

“We need to unlock our minds and think laterally to solve today’s issues. And what most people don’t know is space data can be applied to almost any problem facing an industry,” Mr Bender said.

“We have a number of really interesting challenges to tackle over the next six weeks. One is focused on optimising airspace in high-density air zones, aiming to improve the use of airspace in Australia’s busiest flightpaths. Another is focused on monitoring environmental and ecosystem restoration projects, aiming to prevent biodiversity loss across Australia.”

Mr Bender added, “While there will be prizes awarded, the real value for the teams is the ability to work collaboratively with a corporate customer with a real commercial challenge.”

Simon Elisha, Head of Solutions Architecture for Australia and New Zealand Public Sector, Amazon Web Services (AWS) said that cloud technologies will be an important driver for growing the Australian space economy.

“The accessibility of cloud technology is opening doors for organisations of all sizes, including startups, government agencies, and universities to develop innovative solutions by allowing them to ingest large volumes of space data quickly and securely,” Mr Elisha said.

Mr Elisha added, “Through AWS, the Gravity Challenge innovators are able to access and analyse data from space, experiment with technology, and develop ideas to tackle some of Australia’s biggest challenges both in space and on Earth.”

CEO & Co-founder of Fleet Space Technologies, Flavia Tata Nardini, is the ambassador for the Gravity Challenge, bringing her wealth of experience in space technologies to the event.

“I’m passionate about everything space data can do for humanity. I’ve seen so many amazing developments during my time in the industry and I know that most issues we face can be solved using space capabilities,” Ms Tata Nardini said.

“It’s so important that we harness every opportunity and collaborate across sectors, and I’m thrilled to see us leading the way in Adelaide.”

Some of the challenges include:

Airservices Australia:
Weather patterns, growth in current airspace users (such as airlines) and new airspace users (such as drones) will see exponential demand on the use of airspace in and around our major capital cities. The challenge is to optimize the use of airspace in locations where high density air transport operations occur.

Greening Australia:
Lack of access and confidence in available data, prevents accurate assessments of the impact of landscape restoration projects. The challenge is to leverage datasets to develop a system that monitors the performance of ecosystem restoration projects and also track locations and the rate of annual reforestation / deforestation activities in Australia, in order to inform investment decisions and prevent biodiversity loss.

Royal Automobile Association:
Inaccurate property and content valuations cause over or underinsurance, either leading to increased insurance premiums for no extra benefit, or risks of serious financial loss. The challenge is to leverage datasets to develop a Building & Content Calculator that estimates residential property values to enable home owners, renters, retailers, and insurers to have a better understanding of the required levels of insurance.


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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.



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